From Sea to Sky - Unmanned Sub Launches Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Michael Alba posted on November 03, 2016 |
Lockheed Martin launches Vector Hawk UAV from Marlin MK2 AUV.
The Vector Hawk UAV (left) and Marlin MK2 AUV (right). (Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)
The Vector Hawk UAV (left) and Marlin MK2 AUV (right). (Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)
Lockheed Martin recently showed off its latest offering in unmanned technology as part of the Annual Navy Technology Exercise. For the first time, the company demonstrated the capability to launch an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). To cap off the cross-domain command and control mission, the operation was surveyed and facilitated by an unmanned surface vehicle (USV).


Cross-Domain Autonomy

The small, four-pound UAV Vector Hawk was launched by the Marlin MK2 AUV. The Marlin MK2 is ten feet long, 2000 lbs and fully autonomous with a payload capacity of 250 lbs. The AUV used a specially designed canister to launch the Vector Hawk from the surface of Narragansett Bay, where it successfully assumed a mission flight track.

The USV involved was the Submaran, developed by Ocean Aero. The Submaran was used to relay instructions to the Marlin MK2 using underwater acoustic communication, which prompted the launch of the Vector Hawk. All three autonomous vehicles were in communication with a ground control station in order to relay their operational status.

The Submaran unmanned surface vehicle. (Image courtesy of Ocean Aero.)
The Submaran unmanned surface vehicle. (Image courtesy of Ocean Aero.)
The successful launch of a UAV from an AUV is a fantastic display of engineering, but perhaps a more impressive note is the seamless cooperation between the three autonomous vehicles. "This effort marks a milestone in showing that an unmanned aircraft, surface vessel and undersea vehicle can communicate and complete a mission cooperatively and completely autonomously," said Lockheed Martin’s Kevin Schlosser.

"This signifies the versatility of Lockheed Martin's unmanned systems to communicate seamlessly across domains to conduct a diverse set of missions in all environments,” said Schlosser. “The capability is quickly reconfigured in the field. In a short time, we enabled these systems to work together by rapidly changing sensor packages."

Read about another case of engineering for the U.S. Navy in DARPA Parasail Improves Naval Vessels' Radar and Sensor Effectiveness.

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